After completing the screenplay for The
Muse with longtime screenwriting collaborator Monica Johnson,
Brooks set out to make his movie. He would once again be working
both in front of behind the camera, as director and star.
First, though, he had to find his Muse. One actress came to mind
immediately. Brooks recalls, "I said I wanted Sharon Stone.
People told me, 'She's never done a comedy before.'" In fact,
one of Stone's earliest screen roles was in a comedy (Irreconcilable
Differences), and the actress had long wanted to do another
Determined to make Stone his Muse, Brooks called her up, even
though the two had only met in passing. Stone remembers, "Albert
started telling me about the movie. I thought, 'He probably just
wants me to do a walk-on.' As he's describing the movie to me,
I'm thinking, 'This sounds really good!'"
Brooks says, "After I described it to her, I asked her if
she would play the part. There was, like, a 5-second pause, and
she said, 'I'll be your Muse.'"
Stone had accepted the role without reading the script first.
While Brooks suggested that she might want to see the script before
committing, Stone "told him I didn't need to read it. The
idea was so fantastic, that this character who could be the daughter
of Zeus could inspire people and be sort of a bit obnoxious in
the process...well, it was too wonderful a part to pass up! I
couldn't imagine anything better happening to my career than getting
to do this movie."
Having landed his Muse by phone, Brooks decided to try the same
approach to get his (on-screen) wife: "I called Andie MacDowell
at home, and described the movie to her. Like Sharon, she committed
over the phone."
MacDowell remembers, "Getting the call from Albert was one
of those rare gifts you dream about."
Elated with the responses he'd gotten so far, Brooks went for
a hat trick by phoning Jeff Bridges to ask him to play Jack, Steven's
enviably successful screenwriter friend. This call proved to be
a little tougher, notes Brooks, because "I knew Jeff had
never really taken a smaller role before, and, speaking as an
actor who does smaller parts in other people's movies, it's fun.
Although his role is not the lead, I needed someone of stature
to play it, because he introduces The Muse to the audience."
Brooks says, "I reminded Jeff, 'You know, Jack Nicholson
does it. You're missing out on a good time. There's no pressure.'
He decided it was exactly what he was looking for." Bridges,
like Stone and MacDowell before him, had committed to the project
while on the phone with Brooks, without having read the script.
Brooks reflects, "When you have finished filming a movie,
and people come up to you and say, 'I couldn't have imagined anyone
else playing that role,' then you know you've cast a movie correctly.
That's what happened with The Muse."
And all it took was a few well-timed phone calls.
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